To my current reading I’ve added the Papal Encyclical, Lumen Fidei, that was just published earlier this month and have been slowly going through it. If you don’t know what an Encyclical is, the Wikipedia entry is informative. This is the first encyclical (you can read it here) I have ever read, and it’s remarkably easy reading and clear to the layman. There is certainly theology in there, but it’s presented with such clarity and absence of specialized jargon that so baffles people who don’t have advanced degrees in Christian theology. So far I have found it a fascinating read. Lumen Fidei, or in English, Light of Faith, is intended to teach why faith is critical to lives, how it gives meaning to our lives, especially in our modern disconnected and secular world. Jimmy Aiken, in his usual precise and efficient manner, gives a fine short summary of the encyclical in his blog, “14 things you need to know about PopeFrancis’s new encyclical”.
As I read it, I want to provide certain passages that catch my attention here for my Faith Filled Fridays. Just to orient one who has not read the encyclical, it is divided into an introduction and four chapters. The structure is the following, numbers in parentheses signify the encyclical’s paragraph numbers:
Chpt 1: We Have Believed In Love (8-22)
Chpt 2: Unless You Believe, You Will Not Understand (23-36)
Chpt 3: I Delivered To You What I Also Received (37-49)
Chpt 4: God Delivers A City For Them (50-60)
So far I have read through Chapter 1. Today I’m going to give what I found to be the most interesting passage in the Introduction, paragraph number 4. It provides the central rationale for the encyclical.
4. There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfilment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time. On the one hand, it is a light coming from the past, the light of the foundational memory of the life of Jesus which revealed his perfectly trustworthy love, a love capable of triumphing over death. Yet since Christ has risen and draws us beyond death, faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion. We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness. Dante, in the Divine Comedy, after professing his faith to Saint Peter, describes that light as a "spark, which then becomes a burning flame and like a heavenly star within me glimmers". It is this light of faith that I would now like to consider, so that it can grow and enlighten the present, becoming a star to brighten the horizon of our journey at a time when mankind is particularly in need of light.
“A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source…from God.”